Get to know Saitama Stadium in Tokyo

The stadium hosting the Caltex Socceroos’ vital World Cup qualifier in Japan is one of the great venues for football in Asia.

On Thursday night, Saitama Stadium located north of Tokyo hosts an absolutely pivotal World Cup qualifier between these two great rivals. 

Injury concern for Japan's Serie A star Nagatomo

At club level, it's known for its wall of noise made by the incredible fans of Urawa Red Diamonds.



And it'll be no less noisy this Thursday night when their national team meet the Green and Gold.

Here are some quick facts about the stadium plus its Aussie history.


The Caltex Socceroos last played at Saitama Stadium on 4 June, 2013.

In a tense 2014 World Cup qualifier, Tommy Oar gave an impressive Australia a 1-0 lead with eight minutes remaining.


Tommy Oar

But Japanese star Keisuke Honda scored from the penalty spot in the 90 th minute after a handball to earn the home side a point.

Mark Milligan, Robbie Kruse and Tim Cahill are the three surviving members in the current squad from the starting 11 that night.

Australia went on to win their final two group games against Jordan and Iraq to secure qualification for Brazil.


The ground is home to the Urawa Red Diamonds - one of the biggest clubs in Japan. 

Current Caltex Socceroos defender Matthew Spiranovic played for the side in 2011, making 18 league and cup appearances.


Matthew Spiranovic returns to the Caltex Socceroos squad following injury.

Former Socceroo and now football pundit Ned Zelic also had time with the club in 2002/03.

A-League's ACL connection

Famously, Sydney FC held on for a 0-0 draw against Urawa in 2007. The hosts – coached by future Socceroo manager Holger Osieck – went on to win the ACL that year.

Had the Hyundai A-League club won in front of 45,000 fans then the Sky Blues would have taken Urawa's place in the quarter-finals.

It ended 0-0 but Sydney produced what is probably still its best performance in Asia, pushing Urawa back and going close through David Zdrilic unmarked in the area and David Carney. The home fans applauded Sydney off the pitch.


Shinji Ono.

Western Sydney Wanderers visited Saitama Stadium to play the club in the 2017 AFC Champions League group stages, losing 6-1 to a rampant Reds.

In 2016, Sydney FC also faced them, with a 0-0 draw at home coming after a disappointing 2-0 loss at Saitama Stadium.


Saitama Stadium was built for the 2002 World Cup and has a capacity of 63,700.


David Beckham.

It hosted four matches at the 2002 tournament, including the semi-final between Brazil and Turkey, won by Brazil 1-0, courtesy of a Ronaldo goal early in the second half.

Saitama was also the venue for Japan's first game of the tournament, a 2-2 draw with Belgium.

England played one of their group games there, drawing 1-1 with Sweden. 


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